As we enter a new year – and a new decade! – it is time for us to look at the food trends that have been predicted for 2020. In many ways, these trends are building upon more general trends that have sprung up over the past few years, such as being more healthy and environmentally friendly. We are expecting more of ourselves and the restaurants that we frequent, demanding proven sustainability in the form of food miles, and taking care of specific organs such as the gut and brain.
The information in this post comes from a number of sources which are listed below.
In this report:
- Veganism: comfort food & dairy substitutes
- The conscious consumer: food waste, food miles & canned water
- Redefining health food: CBD & supplements
- Low and no: the Nogroni
- Eat the world: Middle Eastern cuisine & tart flavours
It’s clear that veganism has grown even more since 2019. According to research by the British Takeaway Campaign, orders of vegan takeaways grew 388% between 2016 and 2018 while vegetarian orders rose 137%. Furthermore, in 2019, 250,000 participants took part in Veganuary – this is more than all four previous years of the campaign combined.
Veganuary’s popularity was compounded by the hugely successful vegan sausage roll from high street chain Greggs. It’s clear that veganism has hit the fast food industry in a big way. This is in part due to young people – 1 in 5 millennials in the UK have tried a vegan diet, and it is estimated that there are now 3.5 million vegans in the UK alone.
This increased interest in veganism has therefore also caused a couple of different food trends to be predicted for 2020.
Vegan comfort food
Perhaps assisted by the huge popularity of the vegan sausage roll, it seems that consumers will be looking for more comfort foods that can be made into vegan products. This can now be found on the high street, with KFC and Burger King now offering vegan burgers. However, other corners of the food industry, such as street food carts and markets, are also tapping into vegans’ interest in comfort foods. For example, some of the most popular street food vendors in London include:
- What the Pitta – the place to go for a messy vegan doner kebab
- The Green Dough – this food stall offers vegan, gluten-free cookie dough
- Pomodoro e Basilico – they offer vegan burgers, pizzas and croissants
However, it isn’t just vegan street food which has been predicted to become even more popular in 2020. According to a market report by Business Gateway, 50% of consumers are buying street food at least once a week and 64% are happy to spend more than the average lunchtime spend (£5 in UK) on street food. This is because of the wide range of flavours that are available, including unusual fusions of cuisines, as well as office workers’ quick and easy access to street food vendors.
From soy to oat to coconut – any way you slice it, the dairy substitute industry is expected to explode even further in 2020. In the UK, 25% of people are choosing plant based milks – with figures as high as 33% for the young adult market (16-24 year olds). Of course, this is in part due to the increased popularity of veganism, as vegans do not eat or use any animal products, including milk. It is now predicted that 2020 will see the rise in plant-based substitutes for other dairy products, including yoghurt and ice cream.
However, these trends aren’t just going to be sought after by vegans. An increasing number of British people are eating flexitarian diets. These are individuals who primarily eat a vegetarian diet, but who occasionally also eat meat and fish. The flexitarian diet is primarily adopted due to health concerns, but has also risen in popularity due to the increasing concern about the environmental impact of meat. For more about the flexitarian diet, go to our post about the future of sustainability.
THE CONSCIOUS CONSUMER
More and more frequently, consumers are taking note of where their food has come from and how it has been made. This has grown from simply buying goods labelled ‘organic’, as it has been predicted that we will be looking at specific issues, such as food waste and food miles.
In 2020, experts have predicted that the focus on food waste is to continue as individuals become increasingly aware of environmental concerns such as carbon footprint and food sustainability.
Globally, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted every year, and this is expected to increase to 2.2 billion by 2025. One of the brands that has encouraged consumers to become more aware of food waste is Oddbox. They take surplus fruit and veg from farmers (for example, farmers who have grown too much of a particular veg, or the veg that is just a bit ‘wonky’) and send them directly to consumers. According to Oddbox:
Eliminating global food waste would save 4.4 million tonnes of Co2 a year, the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.
Through schemes such as Oddbox, consumers are instead helping to ensure that food is not wasted. Furthermore, brands such as Urban Cordial are taking wonky fruit that cannot be sold in supermarkets and using them to create a range of low sugar cordials. So far they have saved over 30 tonnes of perfectly edible produce from going to landfill. It is believed that efforts such as these will continue throughout 2020, with ugly veg being transformed into relishes, juices, and perhaps even flours.
Another sustainability concern that will dominate discussions in 2020 is local food. This ranges from the fairly local – for example, buying English wine rather than wine that has to be transported from overseas – to the hyperlocal, such as food that has been produced within 10-15 miles of your home. The issue of sourcing local ingredients has, much like food waste, come into the public consciousness due to an increased desire to reduce carbon footprints. Sourcing locally is a good way to do this, as it ensures that little (or none!) of your fruit and veg has been air-freighted from overseas.
Many restaurants are also looking to source more local ingredients, with some, such as The Ethicurean, growing their own seasonal produce to use in their menus. Other restaurants are including hydroponic systems into their decor, which allows their customers to see the produce as they eat it. Ideas like these are not only growing in popularity because of their positive environmental impact, but also because they challenge chefs to become more creative with the way that they use seasonal British produce in their dishes.
Cans vs bottles
Finally, finding plastic-free packaging options will continue to be a trend in 2020. In 2019, some innovative ideas about how to reduce plastic packaging were put forward, such as the Ooho capsules – biodegradable pods that can be filled with water or other liquids. These can either be consumed whole, or you can bite into them to release the liquid. However, it is predicted that in 2020 it will be aluminium cans that lead the battle against plastic.
This is because aluminium cans are more quickly and easily recyclable. Nearly 75 percent of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today, and it is a material that can be recycled indefinitely. Furthermore, more cans are transported per vehicle in comparison to other types of packaging, which therefore uses less fuel per product. This idea has been put into action by the brand CanOWater, which sells still and sparkling spring water in aluminium cans. This finally gives consumers an option besides plastic water bottles.
Tinned alcohol has also come back into fashion, with Waitrose reporting that sales of canned lagers outstripping bottled versions. Furthermore, in 2019 London wine merchant Jascots launched what it claims is the first English still wine in a can.
RE-DEFINING HEALTH FOOD
The foods that we eat are clearly linked to our health – but in 2020 it is predicted that this will go to a different level. Not only will we be building on some of the health food trends that erupted in 2019 (such as CBD) but there seems to be increased interest in other health foods, such as collagen. This is the most common form of protein in our bodies and is significant in forming our connective tissues. There is some evidence that collagen can help strengthen ligaments and assist with joint health, as well as potentially decrease the appearance of wrinkles.
It can already be found in foods such as salmon, leafy greens, eggs, berries, tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds, but some brands have begun adding collagen to products such as protein bars and matcha powder. It’s yet to be determined how much collagen should be consumed per day, and some health professionals have said that anyone who consumes a healthy amount of protein should not need to add extra collagen to their diet.
Nootropics is another term that is on the rise. These are herbs, foods and supplements that claim to help with cognition, productivity and memory. Some foods that apparently have these properties are walnuts, blueberries and green tea. However, brands are now also adding them to foods such as chocolate and coffee. I’m personally on the fence about this one until I can see some hard evidence that they really make such a difference.
LOW AND NO ALCOHOL
In 2019 low and no alcohol drinks were in huge demand. And in 2020, this drinks trend is predicted to grow even more, as increasing numbers of Britons are drinking less alcohol, or becoming teetotal, due to health concerns.
Beer brand BrewDog is opening a pop-up alcohol-free bar in January 2020, and other brands such as Seedlip, one of the pioneering alcohol-free spirits company, has recently expanded their product line to include the Nogroni (a non-alcoholic version of the classic Negroni). Zero-proof spirits such as the Nogroni are believed to be just the beginning of the low and no alcohol trend.
EAT THE WORLD
In terms of what types of cuisine will be popular in 2020, according to The Food People, the cuisines with the highest market appeal and evidence of trend setting influence are:
- Modern British
- Middle Eastern
In terms of ingredients, it seems that Middle Eastern has had a particular resurgence. Increasingly popular ingredients include sumac (an essential ingredient in Arabic cooking which is preferred to lemon for sourness and astringency), baharat (a spice blend typically made with a combination of black peppercorns, coriander, cumin, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, paprika, and nutmeg) and za’atar (a condiment generally made with ground dried thyme, oregano and marjoram, mixed with toasted sesame seeds, and salt).
Other ingredients on the up are:
- Kombucha – the trend of fermented food and gut health continues into 2020
- Tart foods – this includes ingredients such as vinegar, tamarind and rhubarb
- Impossible foods – we’ve all now heard of the Impossible Burger, and these faux meats are set to continue into the new decade
- Seafood, but not as you know it – ingredients such as sea buckthorn, seaweed, and kelp will be popular in 2020
The predicted 2020 food and drink trends are clearly building upon past trends. Now, with our increasingly sophisticated understanding of sustainability and health, as well as our more diverse culinary appetites, we’re clearly looking for niche products and solutions to push us into this new decade.
Happy New Year!
Market Report, Business Gateway
Biggest Food and Drink Trends for 2020, Delish
Culinary & Cocktails Trend Forecast, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
Global Food and Drink Trends 2020, Mintel
Top F&B Trends for 2020, PCMA
Flavour & Trend Forecast, THP
Food and Beverage Trends 2020 UK, The Food People
7 Consumer Drinks Trends to Watch in 2020, The Drinks Business